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Herbs & Plants

Kalmia angustifolia

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Botanical  Name: Kalmia angustifolia
Family: Ericaceae
Genus: Kalmia
Species:K. angustifolia
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Ericales

Synonyms: K. angustifolium, K. intermedia

Common Name: Sheep Laurel

Habitat :Kalmia angustifolia is native to Eastern N. America – Newfoundland to Hudson Bay, south to Georgia and Michigan. Nat in Britain. It grows on acidic bogs and swamps.

Description:
Kalmia angustifolia is an evergreen Shrub. The wild the plant may vary in height from 15–90 cm (6–35 in). The attractive small, deep crimson-pink flowers are produced in early summer. Each has five sepals, with a corolla of five fused petals, and ten stamens fused to the corolla. They are pollinated by bumble bees and solitary bees. Each mature capsule contains about 180 seeds.

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New shoots arise from dormant buds on buried rhizomes. This process is stimulated by fire. The narrow evergreen leaves, pale on the underside, have a tendency to emerge from the stem in groups of three. A peculiarity of the plant is that clusters of leaves usually terminate the woody stem, for the flowers grow in whorls or in clusters below the stem apex.

Numerous cultivars have been selected for garden use, of which K. angustifolia f. rubra has gained the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Award of Garden Merit.
It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower in June, and the seeds ripen in September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
Cultivation:
Requires an acid humus-rich soil, succeeding in part shade or in full sun in cooler areas. Prefers almost full sun. Dislikes dry soils, requiring cool, permanently moist conditions at the roots. Succeeds in open woodland or along the woodland edge. Plants are very cold-hardy, tolerating temperatures down to about -30°c. A very ornamental and variable plant, there are many named varieties. The flowers are produced at the end of the previous years growth. Plants spread slowly by means of suckers. Pruning is not normally necessary, though if older plants become bare at the centre they can be cut back hard and will regrow from the base.
Propagation:
Seed – surface sow in late winter in a cool greenhouse in light shade. Prick out the young seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. The seedlings are rather sensitive to damping off, so water them with care, keep them well-ventilated and perhaps apply a fungicide such as garlic as a preventative. Grow the young plants on in light shade and overwinter them in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. The seed is dust-like and remains viable for many years. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, August in a frame. Very poor results unless the cuttings are taken from very young plants. Layering in August/September. Takes 18 months. The plants can also be dug up and replanted about 30cm deeper in the soil to cover up some of the branches. The plant can then be dug up about 12 months later when the branches will have formed roots and can be separated to make new plants.

Medicinal Uses:
Sheep laurel is a very poisonous narcotic plant the leaves of which were at one time used by some native North American Indian tribes in order to commit suicide. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism. The leaves are usually used externally as a poultice and wash in herbal medicine and are a good remedy for many skin diseases, sprains and inflammation. They can also be applied as a poultice to the head to treat headaches. The singed, crushed leaves can be used as a snuff in the treatment of colds. Used internally, the leaves are analgesic, astringent and sedative and have a splendid effect in the treatment of active haemorrhages, headaches, diarrhoea and flux. This species is said to be the best for medicinal use in the genus. The plant should be used with great caution however, see the notes below on toxicity.

Known Hazards : The foliage is poisonous to animals. The whole plant is highly toxic.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalmia_angustifolia
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Kalmia+angustifolia
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_RST.htm

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Herbs & Plants

Artemisia gmelinii

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Botanical Name : Artemisia gmelinii
Family: Asteraceae
Subfamily: Asteroideae
Tribes: Anthemideae
Subtribes: Artemisiinae
Genus: Artemisia
Species: Artemisia gmelinii

Common Name : Russian Wormwood, Gmelin’s wormwood

Habitat : Artemisia gmelinii is native to Eastern Europe to Central Asia, China, Mongolia and Korea. It grows on dry stony slopes, especially in Ladakh and Lahul, 2100 – 4200 metres. Hills, steppe, semidesert steppe, meadows, rocky slopes, scrub, dry floodlands, wastelands; 1500–4900 m.

Description:
Artemisia gmelinii is a perennial subshrubs, caespitose, 50-100(-150) cm tall, from woody rhizomes, densely pubescent, or glabrescent. Stems branched from upper parts. Leaves gland-dotted. Middle stem leaves: petiole 1-5 cm, triangular- or elliptic-ovate, 2-10 × 2-8 cm, 2- or 3-pinnatisect; segments 3-5 pairs; lobules serrate or pectinate; rachis serrate. Uppermost leaves and leaflike bracts 1- or 2-pinnatisect or entire; lobes linear or linear-lanceolate. Synflorescence a broad panicle. Capitula nodding. Involucre globose, 2-3.5(-5) mm in diam.; phyllaries puberulent, sometimes glabrescent. Marginal female florets 10-12; corolla narrowly tubular, ca. 1.3 mm, densely gland-dotted. Disk florets 20-40, bisexual; corolla ca. 1.8 mm. Achenes ellipsoid-ovoid or ellipsoid-conical. Fl. and fr. Aug-Oct. 2n = 18, 36.

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It is hardy to zone (UK) 3. It is in flower from Aug to October, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.
Cultivation:
Easily grown in a well-drained circumneutral or slightly alkaline loamy soil, preferring a warm sunny dry position. Established plants are drought tolerant. Plants are longer lived, more hardy and more aromatic when they are grown in a poor dry soil. This species is closely related to A. sacrorum and often confused with that species. We are not sure if this plant is annual, biennial or perennial, since various reports differ. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation:
Seed – surface sow from late winter to early summer in a greenhouse, making sure that the compost does not dry out[200]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer. Division in spring or autumn. Basal cuttings in late spring. Harvest the young shoots when about10 – 15cm long, pot up in a lightly shaded position in a greenhouse or cold frame and plant them out when well rooted. Very easy.
Edible Uses: …One report says that the plant is edible but gives no more details.

Medicinal Uses:
Hepatic…..The leaf and stem are used in Korea to treat hepatitis, hyperlipaemia and infected cholecystitis. The plant contains flavonoids, sesquiterpenes and other bio-active constituents, though no bio-activites have been recorded scientifically.

Other Uses: The plant yields 1% essential oil, which contains 19% essential oil, 6% camphor

Known Hazards: Although no reports of toxicity have been seen for this species, skin contact with some members of this genus can cause dermatitis or other allergic reactions in some people.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Artemisia_gmelinii
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Artemisia+gmelinii
http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=200023234

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Herbs & Plants

Allium atropurpureum

Botanical Name : Allium atropurpureum
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Subfamily: Allioideae
Genus: Allium
Species: A. atropurpureum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales

Common NamesOrnamental Onion

Habitat : Allium atropurpureum is native to E. Asia – N. India.(Hungary, the Balkans, and Turkey.). It grows on the shaded humus rich soils along rocky cliffs, 1900 metres to 2200 metres in the Himalayas.

Description:
Allium atropurpureum is a bulb growing to 1 m (3ft 3in).It grows in clumps or bold drifts, for the most dramatic displays, and leave the seedheads standing throughout autumn and winter to add structural interest to the garden. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, insects.

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Allium atropurpureum is a fun drumstick allium, bearing a tightly packed ball of maroon-purple flowers on top of a tall, stout stem. It’s native to the Balkans, where it can be found growing in dry, open spaces.

Cultivation:
Allium atropurpureum prefers a sunny position in a light well-drained soil. Established plants are fairly drought tolerant[190]. Judging by its habit, this plant should also tolerate some shade. This species is only hardy in the milder areas of the country, it should tolerate temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c. The bulbs should be planted fairly deeply. Most members of this genus are intolerant of competition from other growing plants. Grows well with most plants, especially roses, carrots, beet and chamomile, but it inhibits the growth of legumes. This plant is a bad companion for alfalfa, each species negatively affecting the other. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle – if you want to produce clumps more quickly then put three plants in each pot. Grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter and plant them out into their permanent positions in spring once they are growing vigorously and are large enough. Division in spring. The plants divide successfully at any time in the growing season, pot up the divisions in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are growing well and then plant them out into their permanent positions.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves; Root.

Bulb – raw or cooked. The bulbs are 15 – 30mm wide. Leaves – raw or cooked. Flowers – raw. Used as a garnish on salads.
Medicinal Uses:
Although no specific mention of medicinal uses has been seen for this species, members of this genus are in general very healthy additions to the diet. They contain sulphur compounds (which give them their onion flavour) and when added to the diet on a regular basis they help reduce blood cholesterol levels, act as a tonic to the digestive system and also tonify the circulatory system.

Other Uses: It is widely grown as an ornamental for its rich, deep purple flowers. Allium atropurpureum makes an excellent cut flower. The juice of the plant is used as a moth repellent. The whole plant is said to repel insects and moles.

Known Hazards: Although no individual reports regarding this species have been seen, there have been cases of poisoning caused by the consumption, in large quantities and by some mammals, of certain members of this genus. Dogs seem to be particularly susceptible.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allium_atropurpureum#cite_note-mildred-1
http://www.gardenersworld.com/plants/allium-atropurpureum/214.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Allium+atropurpureum

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Herbs & Plants

Brassica rapa campestris

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Botanical Name : Brassica rapa campestris
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Brassica
Species:B. rapa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Brassicales

Synonyms: B. campestris autumnalis. B. rapa campestris. (L.)Clapham.

Common Name : Wild Turnip

Habitat : Brassica rapa campestris is native to Europe – Mediterranean. Naturalized in Britain. It grows on the river banks, arable and waste land.

Description:
Brassica rapa campestris is an annual plant growing to 0.8 m (2ft 7in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 7 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, self.The plant is self-fertile.

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Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist

Cultivation:
Succeeds in full sun in a well-drained fertile preferably alkaline soil. Succeeds in any reasonable soil but prefers one on the heavy side[16]. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.8 to 8.3. This is the wild form of the turnip with a non-tuberous tap-root. It is closely related to the cultivated forms that are grown for their edible oil-bearing seeds.
Propagation:
Seed – sow spring or autumn in situ.
Edible Uses:
Leaves – raw or cooked. A strong radish/cabbage flavour. An edible oil is obtained from the seed, it is best when cold pressed. Some varieties are rich in erucic acid which can be harmful.
Medicinal Uses: The tuberous roots and seeds are considered to be antiscorbutic. A rather strange report, the leaves are much more likely to contain reasonable quantities of vitamin C than the roots or seeds.
Other Uses:…Oil; Oil…..The seed contains up to 45% of a semi-drying oil. It is used as a lubricant, luminant and in soap making

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brassica_rapa
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Brassica+rapa+campestris

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Herbs & Plants

Equisetum pratense

Botanical Name : Equisetum pratense
Family: Equisetaceae
Genus: Equisetum
Species: E. pratense
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Equisetopsida
Order: Equisetales

Common Names : Meadow horsetail, Shade horsetail or Shady horsetail

Habitat : Equisetum pratense is native to arctic and temperate regions of Europe, including Britain, N. America, central and northern Asia. It grows on grassy stream banks, up to 900 metres.

Description:
Equisetum pratense is in general a green, bottlebrush-like creeping perennial , growing to 0.6 m (2ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5. The seeds ripen in April.

Summery in detail:
It has branching rootstocks, rooted at the nodes. The Arial stems may be annual or Perennial, are cylindrical, fluted, simple or with whorled branches at the jointed nodes. The internodes are usually hollow. The Surfaces of the stems are covered with Silica. The Cones are terminal.

*Stems dimorphic; slender, erect, hollow, and annual. Central canal about 1/6 to 1/3 diameter of the stem.
*Sterile stems to 18″, upright and whitish green; branched, with long, thin, tapering tip and 10-18 minutely roughened ridges. Internodes about 1″ apart.
*Fertile Stems to 15″, upright, brown; initially unbranched, branching and greening up only after cones have disappeared.
*Branches 5″ long, thin and delicate, straight, smoothed, solid, 3-sided, and unbranched; horizontal to drooping; borne in whorls. First branch segment not longer than adjacent stem sheath. *Teeth deltoid, slightly incurving, with thin white margins.
*Leaf Sheaths pale, 2-6 mm long, 2-4.5 mm wide, with 8-10 brown, white-edged teeth, 1.5-4 mm long.
*Rhizomes dull, black, slender, deeply creeping, and branching.
*Roots black, wiry kinky.
*Cones 1″ long, blunt tipped, on very long stalks; at the tips of fertile stem.
*Spore Clusters – in 1 – 2 cm long cone, on long talk at tip of bottlebrush-like shoot (whorled branches may be absent at first), soon fall off

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Notes:
Meadow horsetail is often confused with common horsetail; however, all of meadow horsetail’s shoots are green and have whorls of branches. Only common horsetail has small, brown, unbranched, fertile stems. The sterile stems of meadow horsetail are generally more slender and fragile looking than those of the lengthy of the first branch segment relative to the length of the adjacent stem sheath. The branch segment is shorter than or equal to the stem sheath in meadow horsetail, but longer in common horsetail. Horsetails contain an enzyme (thiaminase) that destroys vitamin B1 (thiamine). In large quantities, they have caused deaths in livestock, though poisoning is quickly reversed by removing horsetails from the diet. Their effect on humans is not completely understood, but raw horsetails can act as a poison. Cooking destroys the thiaminase. Only very small quantities should be taken internally, and people with high blood pressure or other cardiovascular problems are warned against using horsetail.

Cultivation:
Prefers a moist soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. Plants are hardy to about -30°c. Plants have a deep and penetrating root system and can be invasive. If grown in the garden they are best kept in bounds by planting them in a large container which can be sunk into the ground.

Propagation:
Spores – best collected as soon as they are ripe in the spring and surface-sown immediately on a sterile compost. Keep moist and pot up as soon as the plants are large enough to handle. Very difficul. Division. The plants usually spread very freely when well sited and should not really need any assistance.
Edible Uses: Roots – raw or cooked. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. A further report says that the peeled stems, base of the plant, root and tubers were eaten raw by the N. American Indians, the report went on to say that this may be inadvisable.
Medicinal Uses: Horsetails have an unusual chemistry compared to most other plants[238]. They are rich in silica, contain several alkaloids (including nicotine) and various minerals

Known Hazards :Large quantities of the plant can be toxic. This is because it contains the enzyme thiaminase, a substance that can rob the body of the vitamin B complex. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase. The plant also contains equisetic acid – see the notes on medicinal uses for more information.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with    your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Equisetum+pratense
http://www.rook.org/earl/bwca/nature/ferns/equisetumpra.html
http://www.borealforest.org/ferns/fern5.htm